The well publicized London federal conference organized by Uganda Federal Confederates (UFC) took place at the University of East London on October 27, 2012. The attendance could not have been better. A high powered delegation from Uganda joined others at the University including those from the United States of America.
All the four regions of northern, eastern, western and central (Buganda) and all demographic groups of men, women and youth were represented. Different organizations and political parties were also represented. United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) was represented by the Secretary General, Eric Kashambuzi who presented two papers on the Roadmap to Achieving Federalism in Uganda and plans to establish Tutsi Empire in the Great Lakes region.
The debate took place in a tolerant atmosphere under the leadership of the master of ceremony in which participants discussed a wide range of issues related to federalism versus unitarism freely and responsibly, disagreeing where they did in a civil manner. Decorum was exercise as required.
Presentations were followed by pertinent comments, questions and suggestions on the way forward. That the discussions were so engaging can be attested to by the fact that the master of ceremony had to set time limits for presentations and comments so that everyone had a chance to make a contribution. In the end according to my assessment the following observations emerged from the successful conference.
United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) is concerned about allegations that Uganda and Rwanda were supplying weapons to the M23 Congo rebels whose insurrection has resulted in loss of lives and displacement of some 500,000 people from their homes. Uganda shares a common border with DRC. For peace, security, stability and development Uganda should make an effort to maintain good neighborly relations with DRC.
During a mission to DRC including to Kinshasa, North and South Kivu provinces about three years ago there were stories from formal and informal meetings from a wide range of people – Congolese and others – that Uganda and Rwanda had been destabilizing DRC through among other things creating and arming militias and plundering its resources including minerals and timber. There were also stories of a possible loss of Congolese territory in the eastern region that would either declare independence or join Rwanda which has been calling for redrawing African borders demarcated under colonial rule.
It is UDU’s humble view that if Uganda hasn’t been involved in any way with M23, it should refute those allegations for all to see. Threatening to withdraw Uganda troops from Somalia and Central African Republic unless “these malicious allegations are withdrawn” and the international community at the United Nations assures Ugandans that it appreciates the sacrifices being made may give the impression that there is something Uganda is hiding which could damage Uganda’s reputation.
The October 27, 2012 London conference on federalism in Uganda could not have been organized at a better time. It has given us the opportunity to examine the system under which Uganda has been governed for the last fifty years, the benefits and deficits associated with it and how to proceed in the next fifty years.
One thing should be made clear at the outset: the conference is about federalism which is a system of governance by sharing power between the central and local governments. Following consultations, my understanding is that the conference isn’t about kingdoms. However, fellow Ugandans who still have doubts should seek clarification from the organizers of the conference.
Since the launch of the Republic Constitution in 1967, Uganda has been governed under a unitary or centralized system of government that has concentrated power in the executive branch of government at the expense of legislative and judicial branches and local governments. Presidents in Uganda from Obote I to Museveni have governed like European absolute rulers including the Stuarts of England, the Bourbons of France and the Czars of Russia.
People demand change of different degrees when existing frameworks don’t work well. Students demand better food because what they are eating isn’t good or is monotonous. Workers demand better working conditions because the existing ones aren’t good. This is a normal thing in all societies. And when leaders refuse to respond or convince the public they face difficulties, sooner or later, some of them revolutionary. Leaders that adjust as enlightened despots in Europe did during the 18th century lasted longer. Those that didn’t like Charles I of England, Louis XVI of France, Nicholas II of Russia and Haile Selassie of Ethiopia were booted out of power and their dynasties destroyed.
Similarly, the people of Uganda after fifty years of independence are demanding change of leadership and a new governance system. NRM leadership and its unitary and tier system of government are not only controversial but also unacceptable. They have made a few families filthy rich and the majority real paupers. All Ugandans are born equal and must be presented with equal opportunity to develop their talents. If they fail to get what they want peacefully, they are likely to resort to other means. This is natural.
On October 9, 2012, in a seven page speech delivered from Kololo airstrip, President Museveni who has been in power for more than half of fifty years of Uganda’s independence addressed the nation and the world. The first two pages of the speech were devoted to protocol requirements and listing invited dignitaries within and without Uganda. The third and part of the fourth pages were devoted to the list of ten strategic bottlenecks inherited at independence in 1962. Before making comments on the speech item by item, let me remark on three things.
First, because there was no agreement on the head of state at the time of independence, the Queen of the United Kingdom remained head of state represented in Uganda by the Governor-General. H. E. the late Mutes II became ceremonial president in 1963, not in 1962.
Second, since 1987 Uganda has been the darling of the west and has received generous donations in financial and technical assistance on a regular – not erratic – basis, at times receiving more assistance than the absorptive capacity. Development partners should therefore be congratulated for that generosity, although there isn’t much to show for it.
First seminar on Radio Uganda Boston
This is Eric Kashambuzi in New York, United States of America.
Fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well-wishers welcome to this first seminar on Uganda’s political economy. The seminars will be apolitical.
We thank Radio Uganda Boston for launching this new program of seminars on the interaction between political decisions and economic change and vice versa.
This political economy 101 is primarily designed for the general public. However, professionals are welcome to participate and enrich the debates. During the seminars to be conducted once a month initially we shall show how political decisions affect economic change and vice versa.
I will lead the seminars which are intended to be interactive and in response to popular demand.
We therefore encourage all of you to participate and make your voices heard as we seek a new political economy model suitable for Uganda in the next 50 years and beyond.
The governance formula including merits and demerits of military and civilian governments suitable for Uganda will be part of this discussion. Military regimes or regimes led by military leaders have so far proved unsuitable.
Major changes including in political, economic and social fields more often than not take place in the wake of crises. The plague or Black Death in Europe contributed to the end of feudalism. The devastation of European economies and societies during the Second World War contributed to the birth of the European Union. In his Zurich speech of 1946, Winston Churchill proposed a “United States of Europe” so that Europeans can “dwell in peace, in safety and in freedom”. Although Europeans supported the creation of a European federation, they resented being rushed or forced into it.
And progress was slow and some disappointments were experienced like when Jean Monnet “the Father of a United Europe” resigned as President of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) because it was not followed by further steps towards integration. Out of this frustration, a committee of experts was formed to study the situation and make suggestions on the way forward.
Countries that have progressed have had citizens that fought for their inalienable (natural or God given) rights and freedoms including freedom of speech. They have also taken risks. When you shy away from them chances are that you will remain behind. Some efforts create quick results – negative or positive – others take a long time. Sometime reversals occur. But a start has to be made.
Uganda has just ended fifty years of independence. The overall assessment is that things haven’t happened the way we wanted them. That means we have to revisit what we did and find out what we need to discard, refine or retain as is.
One of the common complaints in Uganda is the system of governance that has concentrated power in the central government and suffocates efforts for regions or districts to decide what they need to do to improve the quality of their lives. The tier system that Uganda has introduced through decentralization is not sufficient because the central government determines what states/provinces or districts should do and the minister of local government is empowered to take decisions that could frustrate local initiatives.
Although some people have denied that Batutsi are nearing creation of a Tutsi Empire initially covering Burundi, DRC, Rwanda and Uganda and later other countries in middle Africa (from Indian Ocean Coast to Atlantic Ocean Coast) and Horn of Africa and possibly Southern Africa there is sufficient evidence to prove them wrong (Alec Russel 2000; Joseph Weatherby 2003 and EIR Special Report 1999). Namibia joined the 1998/99 war waged by Rwanda and Uganda against DRC because the leaders there were not sure what would follow after the defeat of DRC forces.
To understand the background to the formation of Tutsi Empire one needs to trace efforts to restore the short-lived Mpororo kingdom and expand it into a Tutsi Empire and why Museveni has talked a lot about Pan-Africanism and the weaknesses of balkanization in East Africa although he prefers balkanization for Uganda which he has sliced into over 100 economically unviable districts.
Mpororo kingdom was formed by a breakaway Batutsi group from Rwanda in mid-seventeenth century (1650s) and lasted less than or 100 years. Mpororo covered parts of present-day northern Rwanda, most of southwest Ankole (Ntungamo) and parts of Kigezi bordering Ankole (S. R. Karugire 1980; G. N. Uzoigwe 1982 and Christopher Ehret 2002).
Fellow Ugandans and friends
One of the major complaints at Uganda meetings that I have attended is that participants are never given reports in good time to study them and consult appropriately in order to debate effectively and take informed decisions. Consequently, meetings end up without taking decisions on the way forward.
Given the vital importance of the London Federal Conference, I have decided to publish my preliminary thoughts before the meeting to give Ugandans and others an opportunity to make comments and suggestion especially on points I may have left out for incorporation into the final statement so that everyone participates in this exercise. I have already circulated a draft statement on “What do we know about federal governments?” on Ugandans at Heart Forum, www.udugandans.org and www.kashambuzi.com.
Please let me have your comments and suggestion as soon as possible before finalizing them for the conference.
Roadmap to achieving a federal government in Uganda
My presentation is in two parts:
1. Renewing national support for a federalism